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Battle of Megiddo (15th century BC)

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Battle of Megiddo
Tel megido

Aerial view of Tel Megiddo from the north east.
Date possibly 1457 BC
Location Megiddo, Israel
Result Egyptian victory
Belligerents
Egypt Canaanites
Kadesh
Megiddo
Mitanni
Commanders
Thutmose III Durusha, king of Kadesh
Strength
10,000-20,000 men Unknown, probably fewer
Casualties and losses
Unknown 83 killed,
340 captured

The Battle of Megiddo (15th century BC) was fought between Egyptian forces under the command of Pharaoh Thutmose III and a large Canaanite coalition under Durusha, the King of Kadesh. It is the first battle to have been recorded in what is accepted as relatively reliable detail. Megiddo is also the first recorded use of the composite bow and the first body count.[1] All details of the battle come from Egyptian sources—primarily the hieroglyphic writings on the Hall of Annals in the Temple of Amun at Karnak, Thebes (now Luxor), by the military scribe Tjaneni.

The ancient Egyptian account gives the date of the battle as the 21st day of the first month of the third season, of Year 23 of the reign of Thutmose III. It has been claimed that this was April 16, 1457 BC according to the Middle Chronology, although other publications place the battle in 1482 BC or 1479 BC. The Battle of Megiddo was an Egyptian victory and resulted in a rout of the Canaanite forces, which fled to safety in the city of Megiddo. Their action resulted in the subsequent lengthy Siege of Megiddo.

By reestablishing Egyptian dominance in the Levant, Pharaoh Thutmose III began a reign in which Egyptian Empire reached its greatest expanse.

Campaign against the rebels in Canaan

Pharaoh Thutmose III began a reign in which the Egyptian Empire reached its greatest expanse by reinforcing the long standing Egyptian presence in the Levant. After waiting impatiently for the end of his regency by the female Egyptian Pharaoh Hatshepsut, he immediately responded to a revolt of local rulers near Kadesh in the vicinity of modern-day Syria. As Egyptians buffer provinces in the land of the Amurru along the border with the Hittites attempted to change their vassalage, Thutmose III, dealt with the threat personally. The Canaanites are thought to have been allied with the Mitanni and Amurru from the region of the two rivers between the headwaters of the Orantes and the Jordan. The driving and main force behind this revolt was Durusha, the King of Kadesh. The powerful fortress of Kadesh offered protection to him and the city. The King of Megiddo, with an equally strong fortress, joined the alliance. The importance of Megiddo was its geographical location along the southwestern edge of the Jezreel Valley just beyond the Mount Carmel ridge and the Mediterranean. From this location, Megiddo controlled the main trade route between Egypt and Mesopotamia.

The Egyptian inscriptions of the campaign on the Temple of Karnak come from a daily journal kept by the scribe Tjaneni during the campaign. In the Egyptian account Thutmose III gathered an army of chariots and infantry that numbered between ten and twenty thousand men[2]. As the Egyptians mustered their forces the king of Kadesh gathered many tribal chieftains from Syria, Aram and Canaan around him, entered Megiddo and set his forces at the waters of Taanach. He expected that his enemy would come by way of Dothaim - Taanach, the main route from the Mediterranean lowlands into the Valley of Kishon, and from Egypt to Mesopotamia.[3] The army assembled at the border fortress Tjaru (called Sile in Greek) and arrived ten days later at the loyal city of Gaza. After one day's rest, it left for the city of Yehem, which was reached after 11 days. Here, Thutmose sent out scouts. To continue north, they had to pass the Mount Carmel ridge. Behind it lay the city and fortress of Megiddo, where the revolting forces had gathered. There were three possible routes from Yehem to Megiddo. Both the northern route, via Zefti, and the southern route, by way of Taanach, gave safe access to the Jezreel Valley. The middle route, via Aruna, was more direct but risky; it followed a narrow ravine, and the troops could only travel single-file. If the enemy waited at the end of the ravine, the Egyptians would risk being cut down piecemeal. The army leaders pleaded with him not to take the difficult road but to take either of the two easier roads. Instead, with information from the scouts, Thutmose III decided to take the direct path to Megiddo. He believed that if his generals advise him the easy route, then his enemy would also, so he decided to do the unexpected.[4]

The King of Kadesh had left large infantry detachments guarding the two more likely paths, and virtually ignored a narrow mountain pass coming in from the south. Ignoring the danger of spreading out his army in the mountains where leading elements might be subject to enemy ambush in narrow mountain passes and his main force still far behind at Aruna unable to come to their aid, Thutmose took the direct route through the Vadi Araha. Being able to achieve surprise and rout his opponent from the rear turned out to be worth it, but to reduce the risk, Thutmose himself led his men on a forced march to Aruna. With his infantry and the light cavalry of mounted bowmen known as haibrw or the horsemen going by the side of the mountains to take out any scouts that might be posted and leaving the road to the main force of chariots he moved in quickly. With the city lightly guarded by the enemy; the Pharaoh led a quick assault, scattered the rebels and entered the valley unopposed. Now, the Egyptian army had a clear path to Megiddo, with large parts of the rebel army far away to the north and south.[3]

Battle and siege

Thutmose seized the opportunity. He set up camp and, during the night, arrayed his forces close to the enemy. The next morning, they attacked. It cannot be established if the surprised king of Kadesh had managed to invert his front lines in time, and prepare for battle. Even if he did that, it did not bring him much help. His rebel forces were on high ground adjacent to the fortress. The Egyptian line was arranged in a concave formation, consisting of three wings, that threatened both rebel flanks. The Pharaoh led the attack from the center. The combination of position and numbers, superior maneuverability of their left wing along with an early, bold attack, broke the enemy's will; their line immediately collapsed. Those near the city fled into it, closing the gates behind them.

The Egyptian soldiers fell to plundering the enemy camp. During the plunder they captured 924 chariots and 200 suits of armor. Unfortunately for the Egyptians, during this confusion, the scattered rebel forces, including the kings of Kadesh and Megiddo, were able to rejoin the defenders inside the city. Those inside lowered clothing to the men and chariots and pulled them up over the walls. Thus, the opportunity of a quick capture of the city following the battle was lost.

The city was besieged for seven months and the King of Kadesh escaped.[5]. At Karnak it is recorded that the victorious army took home 340 prisoners, 2,041 mares, 191 foals, 6 stallions, 924 chariots, 200 suits of armor, 502 bows, 1,929 cattle, 22,500 sheep, and the royal armor, chariot and tent-poles of the King of Megiddo.[6] The city and citizens were spared. A number of other cities in the Jezreel Valley were conquered and Egyptian authority in the area was restored.[6]

Results

Egypt's realm was expanded by this campaign. As Paul K. Davis wrote, "By reestablishing Egyptian dominance in Palestine, Thutmose began a reign in which Egypt reached its greatest expanse as an empire."[7] Thutmose III required from the defeated kings that they each send a son to the Egyptian court. There, they received an Egyptian education. When they returned to their homelands, they governed with Egyptian sympathies. Nevertheless, the victory at Megiddo was only the beginning of the pacification of the Levant. Only after several further campaigns, conducted almost annually, was the unrest cooled.

Notes

  1. Trevor N. Dupuy, Evolution of Weapons and Warfare.
  2. Cline 2000 p. 17
  3. 3.0 3.1 Tomac Petar, Vojna Istorija, 1959. p.21
  4. Cline 2000 p. 18
  5. Cline 2000 p. 21
  6. 6.0 6.1 Cline 2000 p. 22
  7. Paul K. Davis, 100 Decisive Battles from Ancient Times to the Present: The World’s Major Battles and How They Shaped History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), 1.

References

  • Cline, Eric The Battles of Armageddon:Meggido and the Jezreel Valley from the Bronze Age to the Nuclear Age University of Michigan Press 2000 ISBN 0-472-097393-3
  • Dupuy, Trevor Nesbit. The Evolution of Weapons and Warfare. DaCapo, 1990. ISBN 0-306-80384-4
  • Dupuy, Richard Ernest, and Dupuy, Trevor Nesbit. The encyclopedia of military history from 3500 B.C. to the present.
  • Redford, Donald B. Wars in Syria and Palestine of Thutmose III. E J Brill, 2003. ISBN 90-04-12989-8

External links

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This page uses content from the English Wikisource. The original article was at Battle of Megiddo (15th century BC). The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with the Religion wiki, the text of Wikisource is available under the CC-BY-SA.

bs:Bitka kod Megida (1469 p.n.e.) ca:Batalla de Megiddofy:Slach by Megiddo hr:Bitka kod Megida (1469 p.n.e.)hu:Megiddói csata (i. e. 15. század)ja:メギドの戦い (紀元前15世紀)sk:Bitka pri Megidde (15. storočie pred Kr.) sl:Bitka pri Megidu sr:Битка код Мегида (1469 п. н. е.) sh:Bitka kod Megiddoa (15. vijek pne.) fi:Megiddon taistelu (1400-luku eaa.)

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